Israel wants Gaza City to be vacated within 24 hours: UN

Israel wants Gaza City to be vacated within 24 hours: UN

Gaza, OCT 13: More than one million residents of Gaza City Friday were warned by the Israeli military to evacuate and move to the south in the next 24 hours, as it deployed its tanks near the Gaza Strip amid fears of a major ground offensive.

As the Israeli warplanes continued attacking Gaza, its Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said: “Now is a time for war.”

The military has warned about “significantly” operating in Gaza City in the coming days, insisting that the residents will only be able to return when a relevant announcement is made.

Earlier, the United Nations had told Reuters about the Israeli military’s warning, which, as feared by Palestinians, could result in Israel’s planned ground offensive.

No comments were immediately issued by the Israeli military regarding the warning. However, it had amassed tanks near the Gaza border and struck the Palestinian enclave with air strikes in the wake of Hamas’s fight to free Gaza from Israel’s decades-long occupation.

UN warns devastating humanitarian consequences
“The United Nations considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences,” Stephane Dujarric, a UN spokesperson, said in a statement.

She added that the UN strongly appeals for any such order, if confirmed, to be rescinded avoiding what could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation.

An Israeli tank fires near Israels border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, October 12, 2023. —Reuters
An Israeli tank fires near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, October 12, 2023. —Reuters
Dujarric said the order by the Israeli military also applied to all UN staff and those sheltered in UN facilities, including schools, health centres and clinics.

‘Fake propaganda’
But appearing to confirm a warning took place, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, said: “The UN’s response to Israel’s early warning to the residents of Gaza is shameful.”

Erdan said the UN should focus on condemning Hamas and supporting Israel’s right to self-defence.

Salama Marouf, head of the Hamas government media office, said the relocation warning was an attempt by Israel “to broadcast and pass on fake propaganda, aiming to sow confusion among citizens and harm our internal cohesion.”

He added: “We urge our citizens not to engage in these attempts”.

Food, water running ‘dangerously low’
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said fuel powering emergency generators at hospitals in Gaza could run out within hours and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned food and fresh water were running dangerously low.

“The human misery caused by this escalation is abhorrent, and I implore the sides to reduce the suffering of civilians,” ICRC regional director Fabrizio Carboni said.

In the wake of Israel’s 24-hour ultimatum, Gaza’s Health Ministry has informed the World Health Organisation (WHO) that it is impossible to evacuate vulnerable hospital patients from northern Gaza.

The UN humanitarian office (OCHA) said more than 400,000 people had fled their homes in Gaza and 23 aid workers had been killed.

So far, Israel’s bombings have martyred over 1,500 Palestinians hundreds of which include children, Gaza authorities said. The Israeli forces have also killed four medics, which the Palestinian Red Crescent claimed were murdered deliberately.

Israel has so far put Gaza, home to 2.3 million people, under siege and launched a bombing campaign that destroyed whole neighbourhoods.

Pro-Palestinian protests were expected around the world and the United States and regional leaders planned meetings amid fears that conflict could spread.